Monthly Archives: September 2016

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 315: The Magnificent Seven (2016) and Fleabag

Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt star in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures' THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.

Curiously, the lineup for this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour is the same as it ever was last time I was on the show: Host Linda Holmes was once again away living a life of intrigue and excitement, leaving her pal Stephen Thompson to moderate a panel that included regular bloviator Glen Weldon and guest-talkers Tanya Ballard Brown and me. Our topics: The remake of The Magnificent Seven, which I reviewed for NPR, and Fleabag, an Amazon series written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, an English actor of whom I was previously unaware. One of these two items is terrific! Continue reading

Vernacular Spectacular: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, reviewed.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

The evergreen Eva Green is the best thing about Tim Burton’s adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ bestselling, “vernacular”-photography-inspired YA novel. But the stop-motion sequences are great, too. I reviewed the film for NPR.

Bad Times, Good Times: Studio’s Cloud 9 and Constellation’s Urinetown, reviewed.

Studio Theatre's "Cloud 9" (Teresa Wood)Constellation Theatre Company's "Urinetown."

For various critic-related, theater company-related, and publication-related reasons, my reviews of Studio Theatre’s production of Caryl Churchill’s anticolonial sex romp Cloud 9 and Constellation Theatre Company’s new production of the Y2K-era Greg Kotis-Mark Hollman musical Urinetown have taken a long time to see print. But they’re in this week’s Washington City Paper, and online, too.

If It Ain’t Woke, Don’t Fix It: The Magnificent Seven, reviewed.

(l to r) Vincent D'Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Byung-hun Lee star in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures' THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.

Wait, Michael Biehn starred in a short-lived Magnificent Seven series on CBS in the late 90s? I’ve always been bad at keeping up with what’s on TV, but this I should’ve known, given my long-term interest in the guy.

Anyway, here’s my NPR review of the new Magnificent Seven from Antoine Fuqua and Denzel with Chris Pratt mugging his way around, too. Random note: It’s funny that both The Magnificent Seven and Westworld, two long-dormant properties that starred Yul Brynner — most famous for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I, “etcetera, etcetera” — as a black-clad cowboy, are both getting reimagined in 2016, isn’t it? I think it is.

The $59,000 Question: Blair Witch, reviewed.

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In 1999, the nanobudget horror hoaxumentary The Blair Witch Project rode a brilliant marketing campaign to blockbuster-level success. Now there’s a legacy-quel called Blair Witch. My short review is that Blair Witch has displaced previous champ Frances Ha as the longest sub-90-minute movie I’ve seen in the last decade. My longer review, for NPR, is here. Boo. Also, boooooooooooooooo.

Boldly Gone: Free Thoughts on the Proceedings of Star Trek at 50, and Gene Roddenberry and fandom, for Rolling Stone

spock-and-the-hortaI basically got into journalism because I wanted to write for Rolling Stone. That took longer to happen than I’d hoped it might, but it was a real thrill to get to do this piece for them yesterday, reflecting on what Star Trek hath wrought on the occasion of the franchise’s 50th anniversary.

Last night, the National Air and Space Museum showed “The Man Trap,” the first Trek episode broadcast (albeit not the first one produced), at 8:30 p.m. Eastern — the same time NBC had shown it 50 years earlier. It’s a really fun episode that demonstrates that the rich character relationships were present in the Original Series right from the beginning, and that most of the comedy in Trek was fully intentional. (Also that what was progressive in 1966 is decidedly not in 2016. But that’s how progress works.)

Thanks to Scott Tobias for suggesting me for it, and to David Fear for editing the essay.